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================================================================== U.N. official critical of Iraqi sanctions may leave job in April February 11, 2000 UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- The senior U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad, who has run afoul of the United States and Britain, is expected to leave his post in early April, sources at the United Nations said on Friday. Hans von Sponeck, a German career U.N. official, has recently spoken out more forcefully against 9-year-old sanctions imposed against Iraq and said the U.N. oil-for-food program he heads was not meeting minimum requirements to ease the impact of the embargoes. He will return to New York for consultations at the end of March and then go back to Baghdad briefly before leaving his post, the sources said. U.N. spokesman John Mills refused to comment but said the New York visit had been scheduled as early as last November. Asked about von Sponeck's expected departure, U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said: "Good." "I think an article in the Iraqi press praising his approach to his work is ample evidence of his unsuitability of this post," Rubin said. "His job is to work on behalf of Iraqi people and not the regime and we look forward to an able manager who will maximize the benefits of the oil-for-food programme," he added. On Friday, the Iraqi newspaper, al-Tharwa, said von Sponeck's analysis was based on facts and figures. "He did not publish personal viewpoints irrelevant to his job when he talked about the deterioration of the health or food situation in Iraq," it said. Von Sponeck, was appointed to the post on Oct. 26, 1998, the fifth humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad for the programme that allows Baghdad to sell oil and purchase food, medicine and other goods under tight supervision. In November, Secretary-General Kofi Annan extended his term to April 25 rather than for a year as some expected but he refused to release him immediately as Washington had wanted. Von Sponeck had been told at the time to curb his public statements. But he resumed interviews with German and U.S. media this month, an indication he planned to leave his job. His predecessor, Denis Halliday of Ireland, voiced similar criticism about the impoverishment of ordinary Iraqis while the leadership grew rich under the U.N. sanctions, imposed in August 1990 when Baghdad's troops invaded Kuwait. U.S. officials last year accused von Sponeck of siding with Iraq in a propaganda battle over who is to blame for the suffering of the Iraqi people: the West, for imposing harsh economic sanctions, or Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, for failing to comply with terms for lifting those sanctions. Von Sponeck had also complained that the oil-for-food programme suffered because of the holds placed on Iraqi imports. The United States has frozen 1,000 contracts, a situation criticized by nearly all U.N. officials and diplomats. Britain runs a low second with about 120 contracts on hold. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi